I have been commuting by bicycle, starting in high school, through my college years and all through my professional career.
In addition, I work with the local and national bicycle organizations and back in the 1990’s I became a League Cycling Instructor for the League of American Bicyclists. The reasons I became an instructor was that I knew the laws and love riding along with local authorities telling me that bikes were not allowed on the roads and I knew that was not true. I recently became Bike Ambassador for the University of California and I help with bicycle events, safety classes and rides.
Presently I am seeing problems with the road users not obeying traffic signals, speed limits, signs and markings. This makes it very dangerous for vulnerable road users including bicycles.
I feel that the US roads have a serious problem and here is why:
Bike lanes are put in where there is not enough room to pass in the travel lane next to the bike lane. We can plan streets to have a sufficient 3-foot buffer between the motorist lane and bike lane.
There is nothing in the travel lane to prevent motorists from drifting into the bike lanes. This is a big problem because of the present, modern day, distractions keep the motorist from paying attention to driving. We can put a barrier between the motorist lane and the bike lane.
When a bicycle is sharing a lane with motorists, the present, modern day, distractions make the bicycle invisible and flashing lights/bright clothing do not help. Allow bicycle facilities that do not put them at risk.
Many right turning lanes are not separated from straight going bicycle lanes and if they are, there is not enough room to pass safely in the travel lanes next to the bike lanes. Plan streets to have a sufficient 3-foot buffer on each side of the motorist lanes.
I see that many motorists do not know what to do when with vulnerable road users and I feel that education can help in this area. We can add bicycling safety training to the motor vehicle registration criteria in addition to signage.
I recommend enforcing the laws by issuing citations. This might be a good way to make the roads safer without a lot of infrastructure changes.
We should work together with our local and national governments and voice our words about making the roadways safer and more enjoyable for all users.